Behind the Writing – For Them and Not

***May Contain Spoilers***

Wow, that got out of hand.  I started writing For Them and Not in April and here we are in December finally getting to the end.  I hope the wait was worth it.  For me, I’m mostly just excited that I was able to write that much for one story.  If you talk to the rest of the group they will probably tell you how many times I said it was only going to be five parts, no six, I mean seven.  I don’t think I actually said how long it would be after part seven was written.  I just waved it off with an “It’s almost done, I swear.”  Now it is done and I have a few things I’d like to say about it.

Since this story was what I spend the majority of the year working on, I feel like the writing is a little lopsided.  With Professor Mishap and my upcoming story I had the piece written before I started to type it up.  If you read my last behind the writing or my other blog at all, I mention that process a few times.  I start writing a story by hand and then type it up (giving it an edit as I do so).  It was odd to post part one (and I believe up to part six) before I finished writing the story.  I tend to give myself notes as I write the stories and intend to get to them before I finish writing the piece.  I didn’t get to fit in as many of those ideas as I would have hoped writing this way, and I wasn’t able to make any changes as I got further into the story.

That one was frustrating.  Certain things, like changing Henry’s name and spacing out the length of time it takes to go from Map’s retirement party to his redeployment, were closed off.  I could have gone in and made the edits, but I felt that once it was posted it would be rude to change the story on the blog.  We may edit the stories further and use some of them for other publications and collections, but for the site, I wanted to keep the continuity.  That meant I had to be a little creative in the final parts of the story.

As far as Alice goes – I didn’t want to get too much into her story for a few reasons.  She is an important connection for Map and I wanted them to feel like two parts of a machine.  I was reluctant to deviate from Map’s narrative in a short story, but I thought Alice was an extension of him so I thought I could get away with her two short terms as main focus.  Before I finished the story Alanna expressed interest in writing Alice’s perspective on the story.  She is used to writing much longer pieces and thought that following a similar format to the one I fall into she could reign in her great expository.  The group also thought it would be a cool nod to the initial concept of the blog where stories and characters were meant as jumping off points for other authors.

I hate the name For Them and Not.  It’s terrible.  I went through a few different titles and settled on one I am really disappointed with, but it’s too late now.  Maybe if I had the story finished before I started posting it, but I digress.  I couldn’t even tell you what I would call it now.  I’m glad it’s over, but I am pretty happy with the final product.  I learned a lot, but most importantly to finish my stories in a timely fashion.  My next story will be no more than four parts.  I wrote it with that in mind (and yes it’s finished).

The story itself came out of the beginning scene with Map being lapped and feeling old (which is likely because I am starting to feel that way a bit myself).  The character and the plot developed out of a need for Map to continue to be important to the story and for me to explore the character struggling to come to terms with being told to stop doing what he had been made to do.  I wanted him to feel like a failure for not dying and for the reader to sympathize with that (and to think how messed up it was).  Eventually I tried to put in some concepts of challenging authority by doing your job well, but it was never a focus and may have just taken away from the main plot now that I think of it.  It was a weird idea but I came out of Map’s confusion about who he was and what he was supposed to do and because it really easy to pick on authority.  One thing I didn’t think I made clear (and I kind of wanted to) was that it was probably the best judgment by the Administrator to end Map’s role and make Napkin the operative.  He was way overdue for the position and maybe the Administrator didn’t want to see Map die after all?  It’s not a coincidence that the start of Napkin’s name is really close to Map either.  I’ll leave that one for you to figure out though.

I cut out a lot in my typing edits.  Map originally had a lot more to say, but as I got more familiar with the character he became someone who wouldn’t be so chatty.  I tried to replace the missing dialogue with actions and I tried to make the characters he was talking to carry most of the progression.  I didn’t want to make it too obvious that other people were speaking for him except in the case of Alice.  Map’s relationship with Alice was very important to the story and I felt that their working together for so long would make it plausible that she could know what he was thinking.  That’s another cool thing that Alanna is going into more in her story.  She is really doing a good job capturing both Alice as the character I thought of her as and as a realistic female character.  One thing I don’t think I could ever pull off is writing a female protagonist.  Alanna has blended the dialogue I wrote beautifully into Alice’s perspective and I’m really looking forward to seeing what she does with the rest of the story.

I don’t want to cut out Alanna’s legs, but I want to point out that I made it as clear as I could from Map’s perspective that there were never any romantic feelings between Map and Alice (or vice versa).  Alanna has already covered that in Alice’s internal narration and I think it’s more clear in her story than mine.

There is a lot of action in this story and I’m not so sure how well those parts turned out.  I’m not terribly good with writing action and there were a lot of (probably too loud) discussions at the coffee shop between Justin Christian and myself regarding those scenes.  I am a stickler for not giving away my story before I send the parts out for editing, but I really needed to get those scenes to feel fantastic but plausible.  I can’t thank the guys enough for talking me off the ledge those few times and helping me to feel like I didn’t totally fail.  The big scene in the house went through a few changes based on what Justin and Christian thought of my rambling descriptions – as did the big fall at the end.  I changed the height of the building at least four times before I settled on what I thought would be a fall Map could survive.  I really wanted him to get the tar kicked out of him though.

I think that’s all for now.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them here and I’ll get back to them.

Ben

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4 comments

  1. First things first I personally ‘Love’ the title — I’m not sure why but it has one of those classic Sci Fi title vibes for me. Also I loved experiencing this story not only on a month by month basis with the Edits and then Reading the finished material but also the discussions we would have during our sessions. I can remember two discussion regarding how high is too high fall from and survive LOL — all and all Ben I think that the year 2013 was a brilliant year for you as a creative person both in writing and your views on the future of all things Adventure World, your personal blog and your pushing forward with you own creativity. I cannot wait to see what the future has to offer from your perspective 🙂

    1. I’m glad someone likes the title.
      Thanks for the kind words Justin. I’m sure I’m going to need them with my goals for this year.
      I did really like those discussions in the coffee shop. It gets us out of the solitude of writing.

  2. I got to say, I was never fond of the title lol. But the story was great! It is super challenging publishing a part of a story when you know the next part isn’t even written yet, but I think it puts a lot of pressure on you to get writing. That being said, I wouldn’t do it too often.
    I think you will be able to look back on this story and recognize it as the one that changed the way you approach writing.

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